In celebration of all things queendom, our latest 'womanifesto' comes from Australian model and activist, Jessica Vander Leahy. Read what she has to say on how women are fast becoming the strongest agents of change.
Over the past year the world has been reminded with headline after headline that empowered women are strong agents of change. The ground-breaking anti-sexual assault and women's empowerment movements like #MeToo and #TimesUp have overthrown many, once powerful, parts of the patriarchy. Suddenly, the voiceless are being believed and encouraged to speak out against the injustices that have for too long oppressed them; especially in the work place.
But this strengthening of women’s rights at work is not just something wealthy Hollywood actresses should be afforded; the poorest and most vulnerable among us should receive this too. As the UN states in its 2018 Empowerment Principles Forum*, “Empowering women to participate fully in economic life is essential to building stronger economies and improving the quality of life for both women and men.”
So, if economic growth is the most powerful tool for reducing poverty we need to strive toward equality first. Research shows communities with more balanced gender equality not only see women thrive better socioeconomically, but they also tend to experience faster and more equitable growth. In fact, the International Monetary Fund economists found that “longer growth spells are robustly associated with more equality in the income distribution”. **
If you need an example, the World Bank*** found that in Latin America and the Caribbean, women’s growing participation in the workforce played a key role in regional poverty reduction. Research showed that over a 10-year period, female labour market incomes contributed to a 30 per cent reduction in extreme poverty. That’s stunning when you consider women are STILL paid significantly less!
Taking into account those findings, clearly sharpening the focus on providing education and earning opportunities for women and girls means there’s a ripple effect where families, communities and nations are able to be transformed.
But in our quest for equality we cannot ignore men and boys. Not including fathers, husbands, brothers and other men in discussions about possible solutions leaves women and girls vulnerable to cultural norms that can result in gender-based violence and other pervasive practices that have oppressed them. The support of me is hugely important to the empowerment process as they also stand to benefit a great deal from healthy, smart and educated women who can help lead communities.
I read somewhere recently a message that said, “Self-love and sisterhood will save the world.” I think it’s true. If history teaches us anything it’s that we need to embrace our inner nurturers, our inner carers and our inner lovers to transform the world into a more kind compassionate place where we can all thrive. We need empowered Queens to do this.
Written by Jessica Vander Leahy.